Do you blanch at the thought of finding an apartment in the city for next semester? Do you have nightmares about the multitude of bookmarked listings that will crowd your web browser? Caren Maio feels your pain.
In an attempt to ease that pain, Maio, a recent Gallatin grad who estimates she has moved seven times in the last seven years, co-founded the website Nestio in January with fellow entrepreneurs Matt Raoul and Mike O’Toole. Nestio, currently in a Beta version, allows users to compile listings from Craigslist or StreetEasy with a few simple clicks (either by emailing a URL to firstname.lastname@example.org or by clicking the Nestio bookmarklet).
In the next few weeks, the startup will also be rolling out additional features, such as mobile capability, collaboration with roommates and a comparison table that allows users to evaluate potential apartments the way they might compare electronics before making a purchase.
The people behind Nestio — Maio, Raoul and O’Toole (whom Maio frequently refer to as “the boys”) and a few interns — are currently working out of an office near NYU campus on 13th Street and Broadway. The walls inside are covered with post-its and dry erase paint, and there is a ping pong table in the kitchen area. If that sounds like some kind of startup wonderland, that’s because the space hosts the participants of TechStars, the “startup accelerator” that offers funding and mentorship to fledgling businesses.
Maio is paying that mentorship forward by offering consultation to NYU students who are apartment hunting. Participants who have a question about their apartment search can email the site and have their queries answered — yes, by a human.
Maio recalls being kicked out of her first apartment, when she was a junior at NYU, because the co-op board in her building didn’t approve her. Only after she had signed her lease did she learn that a board must approve co-op tenants. However, the unfortunate event ultimately inspired her to co-found Nestio, which she hopes will help people avoid wasting their time by giving users helpful information and flagging potential problems, like misleading photos or stale listings. Or as Maio puts it, Nestio can be “that friend you go to when you’re moving—your right-hand man.”